Baler is something else all together though. Four hours from the nearest town, you arrive in Baler after an arduous trip through the Sierra Madre Mountains that sandwich Baler between the Pacific Ocean. The mountains covered in lush jungle and rainforest still today is a hide out for the Communist rebels of the NPA. The land around Baler is a series of waterways, rice paddies, jungle and coconut groves where the people live a simple life. Sat in a wide bay, which stretches so far you cannot even see the end on days of low cloud. Throughout the bay, there is a fine selection of waves but many of which take some determination to get too. Some working under different conditions there are slabbing reefs, a barrelling yet remote left point and some point like peeling rivermouth waves. Whilst we were there we had two head high swells where we had the opportunity to surf some of the reefs where you find you way out to the reef through a series of mangroves. When the reefs and river mouth were not working there always seemed like there was something small to catch at the beach on a longboard, except the locals all have tiny yellow beaten up old shortboards, which they manage to launch through a series of big turns and airs on the sloppiest of waves. It seems to me the Philippines are not as fickle as people say there was a big swell in Baler a few days before we arrived, two while we were there, another big swell this weekend and one next week. You just need to know where to be, at what time of year and find the waves for yourself. It is not like other places with a surf camp out front or a queue of locals waiting to take you to the waves.
Talking of the locals, I was a bit concerned about security issues in the Philippines as they have a reputation for crime but the Philippines is as safe as anywhere, once you have left Manila. The local people everywhere we went were kind, welcoming and friendly which is the embodiment of the Filipino spirit, Mabuhay. This is a lot like the Aloha Spirit of Hawaii and we made many friends. The Filipino people's generosity and the beauty of their country overwhelmed us.
Now I am home I have an article to write for Huck about Baler. Another environmental surfboard article for Drift as well a couple of other things I have in mind for them. There is also a Paipo Glide story in the pipeline and I am just awaiting the photos. I am also looking into doing an article about the strange weather patterns of the last two years. In addition, I hope to have time finish my journalism course and write about more non-surfing topics.